A Memory of Falling

I was a resilient little kid and sometimes, a little reckless. I once "escaped" home, just after learning to walk, and was promptly found meandering far down the street in my diaper. As a kindergartener, I pulled the fire alarm on the school bus, and all the kids had to evacuate. When asked why I did it, I responded: "I just wanted to see what would happen."

I look back on my childhood and admire my curiosity and determination. When I wanted to achieve something, there wasn't much I would let get in my way.

One day, I decided I was ready to ride my bike without training wheels. My Dad wasn't home so, I got help from a neighbor after unsuccessfully trying to remove the training wheels myself. I then proceeded to go full speed down the hill next to our house off a skate ramp. Luckily, I landed. From then on, I was confident I could ride on two wheels. Little did I know, the momentum of riding down a hill is non-existent on flat ground.

Not long after the training wheel operation, I distinctly remember falling on the sidewalk right outside my house. I didn't cry until I looked at my elbow and saw the blood. By this point, my older brother, Nick, had already run inside to get help from my parents.

I'm not sure why this memory of falling off my bike comes to mind now and again, but it does. It's fascinating to me that while the impact of falling didn't bother me much, the sight of blood was alarming.

As an adult, I may not be as reckless as I once was, but I still relate to my perseverance as a child. I've come to embrace the fall and take the long game when it comes to success. That said, what does the blood represent in my life today?

I began writing this note to find an answer to this question. I think the blood represents a truth we tell ourselves about how failure looks. Even when the fall doesn't hurt us; we feel hurt when we see the blood. It makes our failure feel real and can be discouraging.

Similar to the saying, if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? I wonder if I fell off my bike and my elbow didn't bleed, would I have immediately stood up and returned to riding, not a tear in my eye? Would I have acknowledged the fall?

When we fail an exam, what if we never saw the grade? When we lose a race, what if no one was declared a winner?

I'm not suggesting that we stop giving grades or declaring winners. I'm more interested in what would happen if we didn't.

This trip down memory lane has taught me is that it's not worth crying over the blood. Whether it's there or not doesn't change the situation; it only serves as a distraction. All that's important is we pick up, move on, and keep trying.

I'm currently reading The Millionaire Real Estate Agent, and in it, the author, Gary Keller, shares his thoughts on failure. I'll leave you with a relevant excerpt from my reading today:

"You can’t know what you’re really capable of doing until you try and never give up. In fact, many people have said that they believe that failure is not the worst thing in the world. They believe the very worst is not to try at all. It’s been observed that many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up."